Modern Myths

The Heroic Monomyth and Modern Gods

How is myth used in popular culture?

There have been many attempts to create modern mythic heroes and situations that mirror ancient heroes and their deeds. Superman arrived on earth miraculously to save it from its own criminal darkness. His defenses, like those of all heroic monster-slayers, are supernatural and formidable. Although created to provide thrills, he might be said also to represent the continuing human quest for wholeness. Joseph Campbell (1904–1987), in his book Myths to Live By, suggests that the voyage to the moon expressed a similar “mythic” purpose. Space stories such as the Star Wars films can play a similar role. The argument made by Campbell and others is that modern humans continue to need myths to help them discover the paths to wholeness that were provided by the ancient myths for the people who came before us.


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